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16: Understanding Big Data

Seminar / Seminar
in englischer Sprache

Big Data is being generated around us all the time in the contemporary world. Does it truly create more objective research or simply disguise the presence of human input to algorithmic construction is hence still based on subjective assumptions? Does the enormous amount of data created and recorded today make it possible to identify connections in a more causal and objective way or does it lead to an unmanageable amount of non-comparable values? In addition to scientific “efficiency”, security and economic aspects also play a role in this arena. What data is collected? When? How? Where? Who has access to this information? Who can analyze data and how do they do so? This interactive seminar deals with the risks and possibilities in a world full of big data.

Advisor to the Secretary General ITF, OECD, Paris; Research Fellow, MIT Senseable City Lab, Cambridge Chair
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Northeastern University, Boston, MA Chair

Dipl.-Ing. M.Sc. Katja SCHECHTNER

Advisor to the Secretary General ITF, OECD, Paris; Research Fellow, MIT Senseable City Lab, Cambridge

 Katja Schechtner is an urban scientist who holds a dual appointment between OECD and MIT to develop new technologies and shape innovative policies to keep cities on the move. Previously she worked at the Asian Development Bank implementing transport technology projects across Asia; formulated smart public space strategies for the Inter-American Development Bank in Costa Rica and Argentina; advised the EU Commission on Smart City programs and headed the applied research lab for Dynamic Transportation Systems at the Austrian Institute of Technology. Katja has published widely, both in scientific journals and the popular press in the US, Asia and Europe, including two books "Accountability Technologies - Tools for Asking Hard Questions" and "Inscribing a Square - Urban Data as Public Space", (Birkhaeuser, 2012 and 2014 with Dietmar Offenhuber). She is an advisor to start-ups in the urban, mobility and crypto industries. Her work has been exhibited globally at venues such as the Venice Biennale (2012 and 2016), MAK and ars electronica. She also holds a Visiting Professorship at Technical University Vienna and curates urban tech exhibitions across the globe. Most recently her project to design and implement contemporary e-trikes in Nepal and Laos was awarded in the Fast Company World Changing Ideas 2018 series and she will exhibit her work on Manila’s urban slum lighting at the Seoul Biennale in fall 2019.

M.Sc. Ph.D. Michael SZELL

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

since 2004 Developer & Administrator of the Massive Multiplayer Online Game Pardus
since 2006 Founder & Manager of Bayer & Szell OG
2007 M.Sc, Technical Mathematics Focus on Computer Science, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna
2009-2012 Research Assistant, Medical University of Vienna, Section for Science of Complex Systems, Vienna
2012 Ph.D. in Physics, University of Vienna
2012-2014 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, MIT, Senseable City Laboratory, Cambridge, MA
since 2014 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Northeastern University, Center for Complex Network Research, Boston, MA

Seminar Week

show timetable


15:00 - 15:30Opening of the European Forum Alpbach 2016Plenary
15:30 - 16:00Opening SpeechesPlenary
16:00 - 16:30A Midsummer Night’s Dream – a TeaserCulture
17:00 - 18:30Presentation of the SeminarsPlenary
18:30 - 20:00Bread and WineSocial


Seminar 01: Beyond MapsSeminar
Seminar 02: Common Challenges to the European and African Union – Climate, Demography, MigrationSeminar
Seminar 03: Religion and PowerSeminar
Seminar 04: World Water Resources and Human Well-Being at Risk – Trends, Data and GovernanceSeminar
Seminar 05: Scientific Excellence and Social Responsibility – How do they go together?Seminar
Seminar 06: The European Union and Its Eastern NeighboursSeminar
Seminar 07: (Economic-)Policy for Progress – The Return of the “Magic Polygon”Seminar
Seminar 08: Biological or Synthetic Evolution?Seminar
Teach For Austria Summer School: Changemaker Lab – Sapere aude!Seminar
Seminar 09: Rule of Law in China and EuropeSeminar
Seminar 10: Utility of Force in the 21st CenturySeminar
Seminar 11: The European Ethos and the SacredSeminar
Seminar 12: Towards a Sustainable Global Carbon LoopSeminar
Seminar 13: Gender Issues in Complex SocietiesSeminar
Seminar 14: Art as Enlightenment in Post-Enlightenment Times?Seminar
Seminar 15: Smart Factory: Social Effects – Prospects for Employment – Impacts on Work and OrganisationSeminar
Seminar 16: Understanding Big DataSeminar
Theatre Workshop with Students of the Royal Academy for Dramatic Art (RADA), LondonSeminar


07:00 - 13:00Alpbach Open SpaceBreakout